THE RED HORSEMAN

Rear Admiral Jake Grafton, aviator-hero of Coonts's Under Siege (1990), etc., now saves the world from potential Armageddon- -and gets to meet Boris Yeltsin and Saddam Hussein in the bargain. The nearly nonstop action begins when an Israeli spy gives Jake's assistant Toad Tarkington a photo that leads Jake and Toad to suspect a CIA cabal at work in numerous evil deeds, including the murder of publishing magnate Nigel Keren (read: Robert Maxwell) by way of ``binary'' poison—poison that, because of the duo's sleuthing, may next be used on them. But despite the threat, Jake and Toad soldier on with their next assignment: to monitor the dismantling of Soviet nuclear missiles. The pair's sojourn in Russia allows Coonts to indulge in his usual soapboxing (``In case you haven't noticed,'' says Jake, ``Russia is a third-world shithole'') even as Jake and Toad meet with beetle-browed generals and try to avoid being poisoned by the CIA cabal. Meanwhile, an anti-Yeltsin KGB faction blows up a Russian nuclear-weapons site, causing a meltdown that may kill a million (```Another million,' Jake Grafton roared savagely. `God in heaven, when will it ever stop?'''). As Russia erupts in panic, Jake learns that the meltdown covered up the theft from the site of several warheads that were then sold to Saddam Hussein. After Jake confers with Yeltsin, the admiral and Toad's pilot-wife take to the skies to bomb the reactor's remaining missiles, shooting down renegade KGB jets in the process. Jake then exposes the CIA cabal and retrieves the stolen warheads through a raid on Iraq—where both the outlaw KGB leader and Saddam himself make a big mistake by getting in Jake's way. Coonts's plots are getting as overcomplicated as Tom Clancy's, but his flying-and-fighting scenes are as exciting as ever. Chalk up another red, white, and blue ace for the author and his jet- jockeys.

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-74887-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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